“With all the stories you tell, it’s no wonder you have nightmares!”
An overly imaginative young boy named Tommy (Bobby Driscoll) sees his upstairs neighbors (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman) murdering a man, but neither his hardworking parents (Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale) nor the police believe he’s telling the truth. When Stewart and Roman learn that Tommy has witnessed their crime, his life is soon in jeopardy — but can he get anyone to believe him?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Arthur Kennedy Films
- Barbara Hale Films
- Coming of Age
- Living Nightmare
- “No One Believes Me!”
- Paul Stewart Films
- Plot to Murder
- Ruth Roman Films
Nearly everyone who’s seen this nifty, under-appreciated thriller (a genuine “sleeper” at the time of its release) agrees that its time in the limelight can’t be too far away. The Window posits a riveting “no one believes me” scenario based on an entirely legitimate premise: who will believe the “boy who cried wolf” once a wolf is really out to get him? Indeed, Tommy’s life is in genuine, startling jeopardy for the majority of the film — and while we may question his parents’ wisdom in leaving him all alone at night in a sketchy New York tenement, there’s something undeniably (perhaps disturbingly) refreshing about witnessing an era in which children aren’t automatically believed, and in which they’re expected to take a certain amount of responsibility for themselves. In addition to Driscoll’s Oscar-winning performance (he truly carries the film), all of the actors do a fine job here, with Ruth Roman surprisingly well-cast as a baddy (one shot in particular — see stills below — reveals an other-worldly evil in her eyes), and Paul Stewart genuinely creepy as her even more ruthless husband. Credit must go as well to Robert De Grasse and William Steiner for their atmospheric cinematography, which places Tommy in a black-and-white shadowland of New York peril.
P.S. Film fanatics may be interested to compare this film with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), which adds a Freudian, dream-like spin to its tale of another “Tommy” caught in the ultimate Living Nightmare.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Bobby Driscoll as Tommy
- Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale as Tommy’s loving but weary parents
- Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman as Tommy’s murderous neighbors
- Fine use of run-down New York tenements as locales
- Excellent noir-ish cinematography
Yes, as an oft-overlooked “good show”, and for Driscoll’s Oscar-winning performance.
- Good Show
- Oscar Winner or Nominee